SALT LAKE CITY -- Neatness counts.
Sporting a new haircut and a whisker-free face, Gordon Hayward led the Utah Jazz to a 100-94 victory Monday night, sending the Dallas Mavericks away with their third consecutive loss.
Previously seen with a shaggy mop of hair and a scruffy chin, Hayward, 22, came off the bench to score 27 points. Included in that figure was a 4-for-5 performance behind the 3-point line.
He said his teammates joked that with his shock of hair away from his eyes he could finally see the rim clearly.
"I needed to get a cut, a little mix-up," he said. "I definitely felt a little lighter out there."
In addition to Hayward's points, the Jazz (18-18) got 15 points and 11 rebounds from center Al Jefferson, while teammate Paul Millsap added 14 points and nine boards.
Hayward, who had 18 points by halftime, also recorded two blocked shots.
Dallas (13-22) got 20 points from forward Dirk Nowitzki, who played in his eighth game since returning from offseason knee surgery.
Center Chris Kaman scored 14 points to go along with nine rebounds. Guard O.J. Mayo added 13 points and five assists.
The Jazz won for the third time in four games. Dallas, meanwhile, dropped its third in a row and ninth in 10 games.
The Mavericks' only win during that stretch was a New Year's Day victory over lowly Washington. Still, the Jazz took them seriously, well aware of Nowitzki's history of big games against them.
"He's had some pretty good games against a lot of teams in this league," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He's explosive and he still has that."
There were moments when Nowitzki flashed back to better, healthier days, but on Monday none of the Mavericks had an answer for Hayward.
"Hayward had a great game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "He hurt us all night long. He's a very athletic player, he's very skilled and he understands how to play. He got us time and time again."
Hayward said he felt lighter on the court and that much was apparent early in the fourth quarter when he made critical defensive play and helped ignite Utah's 14-4 game-winning run.
After stealing a pass on the Jazz's end of the floor, speedy Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois breezed down the floor, looking for what appeared to be an easy layup. However, Hayward found a little extra speed of his own and caught Beaubois from behind before blocking his shot at the rim.
"(Just) trying to make a play," Hayward said. "Anytime someone's got a fastbreak layup it's probably one of my favorite plays. I try to run back and block it. It's a big momentum change and it got the crowd going."
Hayward came into the game as Utah's third-leading scorer behind Jefferson and Millsap, averaging 13.3 points per game.
Against Dallas, however, he raised his game. Not only did he come up with a big defensive play, he also came up with seven points in the fourth quarter and 18 in the first half.
The Jazz trailed by seven before halftime but rallied late in the half. They were far from perfect -- they were 31-for-77 from the field -- but they matched the Mavericks' physicality and outscored them 26-14 in the final period.
"This team's not going to back down from anybody," Corbin said.
The Jazz now will focus their attention on a three-game road trip, which begins Wednesday night at Charlotte.